Thursday, March 13, 2014

London Concert in an Adams Home

I imagined last night's concert to have been written by Kurt Vonnegut.  A unique and ironic feeling of being comfortably out of place in a world that seemed to have been constructed with very specific intentions.  A beautiful Adams home in central London whose owners host concerts and master classes about three times a week.  The two floors I saw had 18 foot ceilings with intricate wainscoting, a huge kitchen filled with workers preparing the night's canapés for the post-concert reception, a huge dining room where Andrew and I sat to eat our ready-made sandwiches and sushi from the grocery store before the concert, a huge drawing room with chandeliers and dozens of paintings covering the walls where the concert was held, a well-used master bedroom whose door was unashamedly open, and two large guest rooms that served as dressing rooms for the performers.  There was a staircase leading to another floor of curiosities never to be explored.  The walls were covered with books where the paintins stopped

In an explanation on the provenance of the concerts, the host said that when their youngest son passed away, they sold his flat in London and used the funds to start a scholarship fund for architecture students.  To escape the sadness of their memories, they also sold their home in southwest London and searched for another space, one which might have a large room to host music concerts whose tickets sales would go to support the scholarship fund, as well as other funds.  Their idea has grown far beyond what they envisioned and it seems to keep them fully occupied now, fourteen years after their son's death.

Indeed their concerts seem to have become a beacon for many different organizations and musicians with varying ambitions and purposes.  Some musicians use the space as a warm-up for Wiggmore Hall or other prestigious venues. Others use it as a space for master classes.  And last night's concert, as it turned out, was something of a fundraiser for The Cambridge University Musical Society.  All the other performers on the program were affiliated with the University in some way and it seemed the concert was meant to be something of a showcase for Cambridge musicians.  There were Lords, Ladys, and Knights on the guest list, and I even had the fortune to meet Benjamin Britten's nephew afterwards.  As out of place as I felt as an American Midwesterner in this canapéd Adam's home (whatever that means), as awkward as it seemed to maneuver in a new culture and social circle I'd only seen in movies, and as strange as my short little bio must have read compared to others filled with concerts at reputable British halls, I felt very comfortable.   Just as Vonnegut writes of an absurd world where all things are equal, so too did I feel quite at home in a place very foreign in structure, in language, in custom, in shared knowledge and experiences.  If they had known, perhaps I would not have been in their home, but there I was.  And the world made space for something unexpected, it stretched effortlessly to accommodate me.  Perhaps I was in Japan.  Perhaps I just live among a world of people who have far more kindness and acceptance in their hearts than any of us realize.  

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